Make no mistake about it, the Brisbane Second Division can certainly put on a show come grand final day.
A tenacious 22-14 win by Norths St Joseph’s over the impressive Samford Stags was a fitting finale to what was an entertaining year in the Open 2 Northside Competition.
The Saints dispelled any rumours that minor premiers Samford would put the Joeys to the sword in the big one, with one of the gutsiest and hard-fought victories witnessed all season.
St Joseph’s powerful centre Ioane Jay Vaa, halfback, Mitch Lonergan, lock Brook Morris-Kerei and inspirational captain and Northside player of the year nominee Daniel Jones were superb for the victors in a show of strength, courage and sportsmanship.
It wasn’t the greatest of starts however for the Saints, as straight from the kick off, the ball was knocked over the in-goal line to force a dropout in the first minute.
This would then test the defensive muscle of the Saints as the Stags went on the attack 30m out.
After two repeat sets of six, the Stags put through a grubber that was fumbled by the Saints and Stags lock Michael Graham made no mistake on pouncing on the loose ball to get Samford on the board.
Goal kicking sensation Scott Willard made no mistake with the conversion to see Samford up 6-0 in the decider.
The Stags barely had time to celebrate their try, as straight from the kick off, Samford knocked on from 10m out to hand the Saints a superb attacking position.
It wasn’t long before Saints half Lonergan put a grubber kick across to find winger Peketu’u Sakaio who touch downed in the corner to see the Joey’s on the board themselves.
A magnificent touchline conversion by pivot Jay Spletter was the icing on the cake and saw the scores levelled up at 6-6.
The unthinkable transpired straight from the kick off for the Stags, with four players ruled offside to hand the Saints another try scoring opportunity with a penalty on the halfway line.
Stags coach Steve Hegarty could only look on in dismay as his troops gave away silly penalties early in the game.
From the ensuing penalty, a smart piece of play by Saint Dane Watson found an unmarked Sam Pettigrew on his inside with a reverse pass to see the replacement go in to score.
At 12-6, the Stags looked a tad nervous and were playing safe football.
The Saints rounded off another sparkling passage of play to score and it was hard-working centre Nicholas Carey who used his fend to beat two would-be Stags defenders to cross the tryline in a superb solo effort.
Spletter again landed a pinpoint sideline conversion to see the Saints with a commanding 18-6 lead.
Saints Vaa and Jones were both putting their bodies on the line with a no holds barred performance.
Vaa was arguably the best player on the ground with his powerful performance.
Samford winger Willard would give the Stags a glimmer of hope in the last 15 mins with a great in-and-away to score in the corner to make it 18-10.
His centre Creighton produced a stellar try of his own crashing over not three minutes later to see the scoreline read 18-14 with nine minutes of play on the scoreboard.
However, the last five minutes saw players out on their feet and bodies of the injured littered the park as all had put in an incredible defence on display.
This game was fought right to the end, and with two minutes on the clock, Saints replacement player Vincent Pio sealed the game with an explosive rampaging run that catapulted him beside the sticks.
Final score: North’s St Joseph’s 22 def Samford Stags 14
In the other game played at Suzuki Stadium, Northside 3’s Moreton Bay Pride secured a maiden premiership over Fortitude Valley taking out the match 34-22.
Captain-coach Josh Smith, halfback Larry Dickson and centre Shannon Sankey were unstoppable to see the Pride take out the premiership from fourth spot.